Doctor casts new light on cat that can predict death

Mon Feb 1, 2010 9:35pm EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters) - When doctors and staff realized that a cat living in a U.S. nursing home could sense when someone was going to die, the feline, Oscar, was portrayed as a furry grim-reaper or four-legged angel of death.

But Dr. David Dosa, who broke the news of Oscar's abilities in a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, said he never intended to make Oscar sound creepy or his arrival at a bedside to be viewed negatively.

Dosa said he hopes his newly released book, "Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat" will put the cat in a more favorable light as well as providing a book to help people whose loved ones are terminally ill.

"After the New England Journal article you got the feeling that if Oscar is in your bed then you are dead, but you did not really see what is going on for these family members," said Dosa, an assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.

"I wanted to write a book that would go beyond Oscar's peculiarities, to tell why he is important to family members and care givers who have been with him at the end of a life."

Dosa said Oscar's story is fascinating on many levels.

Oscar was adopted as a kitten from an animal shelter to be raised as a therapy cat at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, that cares for people with severe dementia and in the final stages of various illnesses.

SIXTH SENSE?   Continued...